Louis Lowendall – Star Works Violin, Berlin, circa 1890
Louis Lowendall or (Lowendahl) 1836 – 1912 was into violins at a young age. His father encouraged this love for the violin. He became interested in construction and the woods used. At 13 he was enrolled in school at Konigsberg High School, northern Prussia, to enhance his musical studies. At 19 he also became proficient at the cello. He further studied violin and bow making with Bausch and Heinrich Knopf. In 1855 he opened a music retail shop in Berlin where he sold many instruments and bows. He did well as a businessman and is not known as a violin maker. He owned the company and employed very good craftsman to work for him, having various levels of trade instruments and bows made with his name or brands on the instruments. He then set off to America for six years where he befriended George Gemunder, a violin maker in New York City. The Gemunder firm purchased many of his instruments and wood. He spent much time traveling dividing his time between America and England gaining contacts and developing relationships while he sold his instruments. Lowendall opened a second larger shop the Star Works Company, Berlin in 1889 specifically to import instruments and bows to the West.
We have one of those violins. It’s a gem with a general Strad label inside. This is the “Artist Violin” made in the Berlin workshop in the late 1800’s. There is a shield carved behind the scroll with those words “Artist Violin” and the other work behind the pegbox is called a hen’s tail. The violin is in excellent condition without even an old wing split. The button contains the eight-sided star stamp with the initials EG in caps in the center of the star brand.
The sound is warm and inviting full of nuance and strength. I noticed the response right away to be quick and clean. The violin doesn’t lack in power and is capable to carry in a large hall. The treble is not too bright but sweet and inviting. This is a definite instrument to trial if you’re looking for a higher-grade trade instrument and not worrying about a signed piece.